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Harassing Mideastern Cyclists

Nate Eckstrom

She was feeling free. On a rainy evening, October 27, Raha Nasseri was bicycling down MacDougal Street and enjoying the relative freedom that the United States offers. She was participating in the Critical Mass bike ride, a monthly demonstration to raise awareness about bicycle safety. In contrast to the political situation in her native Iran, she and her bicyclist friends were able to revel in the camaraderie and spirit of civil disobedience without fear of repression.

Then an NYPD officer called out to her to pull the bike over. A lot of bicyclists were being stopped, and so she didn’t see anything strange in this. When the officer asked her if she had any weapons, she thought it was a little odd. Then when he asked if she had any “Weapons of Mass Destruction”, she laughed, assuming the stern officer must be joking. He assured her he was not. He went on to question her about her “connections to Al-Queda,” before telling another officer to write her a $60 ticker for riding without a front light.

Ms. Nasseri has lived in the United States for almost three years, since last year in an East River Co-op building on Grand Street. Although she has experienced playful, what she calls “harmless,” teasing at her workplace, this was the first time she was harassed seriously. The officer hadn’t looked at her passport, yet when he initiated the questions, but it seemed clear that her appearance was the motivating factor behind his questions. As far as she knows, none of the other riders were asked these questions.

A complaint has been filed with the Civilian Complaint Board - a product of the post-Guliani oversight of the NYPD. The officer who wrote the ticket, John Smith (his real name, according to the CCB’s records), will likely be questioned. The most probable outcome, according to the CCB representative, would be disciplinary action against one or both of the officers.



Anonymous Pete said...

this crap turns my stomach

3000 dead but bring on the mewling because a police officer 'supposedly' said something to a middle easterner about Al Queda

Let's go back and persecute anyone who said anything to a German in 1942 because that's the real 'crime'

11/20/2006 11:11 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

pete, you sound like the kind of person who still thinks the guy behind the counter at the bodega was responsible for 9/11.

11/20/2006 3:26 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Actually a lot of the middle eastern groceries were part of cigarette smuggling and coupon scams that were used to fund Hezbollah and other terrorist organizations

(but we can't talk about that, it's politically incorrect to even mention it)

11/20/2006 4:20 PM  
Anonymous Majid said...

Pete! you know what your problem is. that you still think of that number as 3000. My friend! it's closer to 300,000, and you can't see that. Please get education, or therapist!

11/21/2006 9:26 AM  
Anonymous David Rutstein said...

More like 300 million if you begin counting from Mohammed's reign of terror down through the Assyrian and Armenian Holocaust, the Zoroastrian Massacres and all the current Islamic terrorism and violence in the Philippines, Russia, Thailand, Israel, Iraq, Lebanon, China, Afghanistan, Britain, Spain, France, Australia and well half the world

11/21/2006 6:43 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Pete, it is unfortnate that people like you exist, who clearly have not had to deal with discriminatory behavior. You should know that a society changes one person at a time. And why shouldn't there be consequences for that police officer for doing what was obviously incorrect. The problem with Americans is- we don't think that there are consequences to our actions. But the world works differently my friend. Stop living in the dark ages.

12/01/2006 9:10 AM  

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